Third Time Hospitalised and the Importance of a Good Insurance Policy

Well, as I expected, I got hospitalised… for the third time this year! This time, I was in the hospital for almost a week. And this happened just a few days after I got discharged from my previous (second) hospitalisation!

When I got discharged, I wasn’t fully recovered, but it seems that I was recovering pretty well. Unfortunately, it sucks to have horribly inconsiderate neighbours. I was unable to rest the few days after I got discharged because the neighbours living above and beside me had been making a din. To make matters worse, there was a day where some kind of construction/renovation works was going on.

How am I supposed to rest?

I was given a course of steroids for my rashes. However, when my course of steroids was complete, the rashes came back in full force!

On Monday morning, I woke up, took a shower, and to my horror, found my entire body covered in pinkish-red spots!!! Not only that, I developed a fever. It didn’t seem so serious, but I felt that I really should see the doctor, so I made my way down to the walk-in emergency clinic at the National University Hospital (NUH) since they have my case file. I expected to just do some blood tests, get some medicine, and return home. It would take a while, so I went out of the walk-in emergency clinic to grab some lunch with The Girlfriend. However, to my surprise (and to The Girlfriend’s horror), after we had our lunch, I suddenly grew weak and became extremely giddy.

That’s when a nurse came and wheeled me into the observation ward, and within a couple of minutes, they attached a drip to my arm.

A while later, they decided to admit me. By then, I began feeling slightly better. Unfortunately, I had to lie in the observation ward for several hours because the hospital was facing a shortage of beds. In fact, the situation was so bad that the observation ward was just filled with patients waiting to be warded! It was so bad they had to place two stretchers per section (it’s normally one stretcher per section). By evening, the number of patients waiting to be warded got even worse, they had to line stretchers in the middle of the observation ward.

According to the nurse, the situation is so bad that this happens almost everyday. Sometimes, if there are vacancies in other hospitals, and if the patient or his/her family consents to it, they’ll transfer the patient to another hospital.

Anyway… While I was lying there waiting for a bed in the hospital, I overheard the conversations of several patients around me. It made me realise just how important it is to have a good hospitalisation insurance.

So many patients around me were improperly insured. It’s only when they are hospitalised did they realise just how crappy their insurance policies were – they could not opt for a better ward, or be covered for certain things. In the end, many of them had to reluctantly choose the lowest class ward so that they could enjoy the subsidy. Apparently, if you opt for Class A or B1 ward, you have to pay private treatment rates, and certain insurance policies will not cover that.

The problem with insurance is that for the many of us who aren’t educated about the world of insurance, it comes across as something really scary. There’s so many technical jargon, and so many policies. I used to think that if you have just one kind of policy, it’ll be enough. But that’s not true. Different policies cover you for different things. For example, insurance policies that cover major accidents, illnesses and death do not usually cover the cost of hospitalisation. They’ll just pay you one lump sum after the policy is filed. Generally, you cannot use it to pay your hospital bill immediately. You’ll usually have to pay out of your own pocket first, before they reimburse you. And if you get hospitalised for something else other than the major accidents/illnesses, tough luck!

In such a case, you’ll need a hospitalisation policy. But  then that depends on how good your hospitalisation policy is. Some policies don’t cover everything in the hospital. There are so many terms and conditions. Some of these policies are so restrictive, it’s just a waste of money – you can’t even be properly covered in the hospital. Unfortunately, many people have been fooled into a false sense of security only to painfully discover just how limited and useless their policy is when they’re hospitalised. This was the reality that some patients around me had to face when they were receiving financial counselling.

For example, I heard this conversation:

Patient: You mean I cannot opt for a Class B1 ward?!?!?!?!
Financial Counsellor: Sorry sir, your insurance policy only covers subsidised treatment. If you upgrade to a B1 ward, you’ll be charged private treatment rates (without subsidy).

That’s a really horrible nightmare to be going through, especially when you’re lying on the hospital bed in pain. Not only do you have to worry about your health and whether or not you’ll make it out alive, you now have to worry about the hospital bill because you just discovered how useless/inadequate your insurance policy is.

I hope he has a rider policy to pay for the first $3000. Most hospitalisation policies require you to foot out the first $3000 (they call it the co-deductable), and they’ll cover everything else after that first $3000. So you’ll need to buy a rider policy (it’s an add-on) so that the policy will cover the first $3000. Otherwise, you’ll have to foot out the first $3000 from your own pocket (and from your Medisave account). I learnt that lesson the painful way when I got hospitalised earlier this year and discovered how inadequate my insurance coverage was (yes, my parents trusted a lousy, good for nothing insurance agent who over-sold policies to them, and didn’t provide proper coverage – worse still, he used threats of death and disease to scare them into buying unnecessary products. I scolded him when he tried to use that tactic to scare me into buying more unnecessary policies. Anyway, my parents signed me up for the policy without my knowing – that’s how I found myself covered with a useless insurance policy back then).

Anyway, to make matters worse, many of the insurance agents tend to oversell insurance that you don’t really need, and they do not really recommend the proper kinds of insurance necessary to give you a peace of mind when you are really really sick. I don’t trust insurance agents (I’m sorry if you’re an insurance agent reading this). I’ve met and spoke to many of them – a lot more lately because they’ve been having aggressive sales campaigns at the train stations and bus interchanges. To date, I’ve not met a single insurance agent who’s sincere and have the client’s interest at heart. I realised just how many of them try to over-insure me with insurance policies that are redundant. I understand that they have to make a living, but selling irrelevant products, and convincing people to pay higher premiums for a higher coverage (which they probably will not be able to claim) is not the way to do business. It’s unethical! How do these people sleep at night, knowing they’ve given people a false sense of security?!

If you want to buy insurance, my recommendation is to buy it from a financial planner. I bought mine from a really sincere and honest financial planner. He doesn’t earn super high commission rates as compared to these insurance agents (and as a financial planner, he has other more profitable sources of income elsewhere), so he’s a lot more objective. Furthermore, he is not constrained to a single company, and can therefore do a comparison of similar products from various insurance companies, and explain the pros and cons. Thanks to him, I’ve got myself properly insured with the best policy to suit my own personal needs, and it doesn’t cost that much too!

Thanks to my financial planner, I have a really affordable and adequate insurance policy that allowed me to rest very well in the hospital without having to worry about the bill. In fact, the last two times I got discharged, I didn’t even have to pay a single cent when I left the hospital! Earlier this year when I was hospitalised, I was worrying every single day about the final bill because of an inadequate policy. I’m so glad I’ve been properly insured. Peace of mind – that’s what every one should have if they ever get hospitalised.

Anyway, I’m still in the process of recovering. The latest turn of events have revealed that I was infected with a really nasty virus. It was not an allergic reaction to some medication (as was diagnosed in my previous hospitalisation).

I still get exhausted easily. The doctor says that’s a good sign because it means my body is busy fighting against the virus. What I need now, is just rest. That’s all. Unfortunately, my neighbours have continued to make a huge din at home. The annoying guy upstairs has been singing karaoke every morning with his wife (I think it’s his wife). To make matters worse, they’ve upgraded their sound system – now they’ve got a subwoofer blasting bass notes and vibrating my walls from 9am to 12pm every morning!

I really think karaoke should be banned from houses. It should be a restricted form of entertainment confined to pubs and karaoke places, where there’s adequate sound-proofing.

Yeah… I do hope I can recover soon!